What it is that those fictional blood suckers have or do that draws everyone’s attention so? I don’t exclude myself from those that are interested in a good vampire tale or two.
They drain regular folks of their blood to survive, they can’t walk in the daylight (in most stories), they can indeed be killed, but baring a steak through the heart, an inferno, or a lopping off of the head they live forever. In our modern times, they also are always portrayed as suave, mysterious, sexy, protective, etc…
There is an odd fascination with the concept of immortality…but immortality with a price, if that immortality is gotten through nefarious means. Their strength, youth, beauty, etc… all come with a hefty price tag. Most of them walk around guilt ridden, and full of angsty brooding…that, and the insatiable hunger for human blood.
Buffy, Angel, Dracula 2000, Dracula: The Series, The Lost Boys, The Anne Rice novels, The Historian, Twilight, Stoker, True Blood, etc… Vampires are everywhere, and the different writers all like to add their own twists…but many times the themes are the same.
The concept of immortality is something quite interesting from my perspective. I think that it is very significant that humans mull over the idea, and that it evokes such strong imagination. I, of course, feel that it is a tacit acknowledgment by the human psyche that we are indeed immortal. And, we “instinctively” know that immortality is a powerful, but sometimes dangerous concept.
In mainstream Christianity we have the belief that all humans are indeed immortal. I loved CS Lewis’ thoughts on it, and he urged everyone to remember that when we deal with fellow humans, we are interacting with an immortal soul…it tends to change the way we look at, and interact with others (and think about ourselves).
Also, Vampires must shed blood, or choose to drink blood in order to live. I always find it interesting that the Bible clearly teaches that the life of the soul resides in the blood, and that it is by the shed blood of Christ that we were purchased so that we could spend our immortality in God’s presence…but the vampire’s tale is a cautionary one; bad things can happen if you attempt to gain immortality in the wrong way.
In many of the older tales, and some of the new, vampires could not harm someone if they held a cross. Religion has always played a role in vamp tales; even the ones that make the point that their vampires aren’t affected by religious objects or people.
Another set of themes within vamp tales that makes me think of religion are the themes of damnation and/or redemption. A human curses God, so God curses them…or vamps as demons or soulless, that’s the damnation side of it. A vampire who desires to abstain from harming humans and to make up for their past, or find a way to break the curse, that’s the redemptive side of it. And these tales are very effective in communicating to us the very serious nature of both of those themes (Angel is one of my favorites, as far as redemption stories go).
I continue to maintain that the fascination with all of these themes points to the notion that humans tap into them because the underlying ideas are real in some form, if only metaphorical. Immortality is literally real, that we gain life by the shedding of blood, though not in the drinking of it, is real…that life resides in the blood, that power is dangerous, that we have to be careful what we wish for, etc… It’s one of the reasons I do indeed like a good vampire tale, and that I find the “sacred” in the “secular” even amidst a good vampire yarn.
Just some fangy-fun musings…I’ll have to use some specific examples in the future as they come up…or fang-out.